Five Point’s 12K-acre Newhall Ranch development takes a step forward

Emile Haddad, Newhall Ranch project and unarmored threespine stickleback fish (USC/Five Point/Center for Biological Diversity)
Emile Haddad, Newhall Ranch project and unarmored threespine stickleback fish (USC/Five Point/Center for Biological Diversity)

Newhall Land and Farming Company, a unit of Five Point Holdings, has finally caught a break after a decades-long battle over its massive planned community in Valencia.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife gave the final approval to an environmental impact report for Newhall Ranch, following several modifications mandated by California Supreme Court. 

Fish and Wildlife had originally approved the project in 2010, but an environmentalist group, Center for Biological Diversity, successfully challenged it in court in 2015. The ruling demanded the developer further examine the project’s impact on a rare fish near the site and its greenhouse gas emissions, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 12,000-acre project runs along the Santa Clara River. Environmentalists were primarily concerned with the project’s potential to threaten the unarmored threespine stickleback fish — a small, prehistoric-looking fish that is protected under state and federal law.

In the new environmental report, Newhall proposed methods for building bridges and bank stabilization infrastructure that will prevent contact with the river’s water during construction.

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State officials said this would eliminate the need for trapping and relocating the fish, according to the L.A. Times.

Changes were also made to offset 100 percent of the greenhouse emissions the development will generate by requiring solar panels on houses, commercial buildings and public facilities. It would also require up to 21,000 homes to have electric vehicle charging stations with subsidies offered to purchase electric vehicles.

Emile Haddad, chief executive of Five Point in Aliso Viejo, said the state’s action is an important step to beginning construction as early as next year.

Haddad, who was recently named chairman of USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate, plans to go before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next month to certify tract maps for its first two villages, Landmark and Mission.

The planned community will be built in stages and will have 21,500 homes, retail, golf courses, schools and recreational centers. Five Point said the project should generate $388 million in annual property tax revenue.

Five Point, who is also behind two other massive planning communities in Irvine and San Francisco, recently closed its IPO, raising about $320 million with an estimated 21 million shares sold at $14 per share last month. The firm was spun off from Miami-based Lennar Corp. in 2009. [LAT]Subrina Hudson